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Shelly Lemire, Individually and As A Personal Representative For v. Arnold Schwarzenegger

February 17, 2011

SHELLY LEMIRE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE ESTATE OF ROBERT ST. JOVITE, GERARD CHARLES ST. JOVITE, AND NICOLE ST. JOVITE,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, JAMES E. TILTON, TOM L. CAREY, D.K. SISTO, REBECCA CAHOON, ALFREDO ALCARAZ, RAYMOND WADE, CHERYL ORRICK, GALE MARTINEZ, GORDON WONG, JAMES NUEHRING, SHABREEN HAK, ALVARADO TRAQUINA, ALFREDO NORIEGA, JOHN M. DUSAY, C. HOLLIDAY, JAIME CHUA, DODIE HICKS,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING EACH DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING EACH PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Each Defendant moves for summary judgment on the remaining Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims alleged in this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Alternatively, certain Defendants seek summary judgment on his or her qualified immunity defense to these claims. Further, the Estate Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on the Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants James Nuehring and D.K. Sisto, and the individual Plaintiffs move for summary judgment on the Fourteenth Amendment claims against these same defendants. Each claim concerns the death of Robert St. Jovite ("St. Jovite"), who was an inmate at California State Prison at Solano ("CSP-Solano") when he died.

I. Legal Standard

A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If this burden is satisfied, "the non-moving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 56, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (internal quotations marks omitted) (emphasis omitted). This requires that the non-moving party "come forward with facts, and not allegations, [that] controvert the moving party's case." Town House, Inc. v. Paulino, 381 F.2d 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1967). All reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the evidence "must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party." Bryan v. McPherson, 608 F.3d 614, 619 (9th Cir. 2010). When deciding cross-motions for summary judgment, each motion is evaluated on its own merits, "taking care in each instance to draw all reasonable inferences against the party whose motion is under consideration." B.F. Goodrich Co. v. U.S. Filter Corp., 245 F.3d 587, 592 (6th Cir. 2001).

When the defendant is the moving party and is seeking summary judgment on one or more of the plaintiff's claims, the defendant:

[H]as both the initial burden of production and the ultimate burden of persuasion on [the motion]. In order to carry its burden of production, the [defendant] must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the [plaintiff's claim] or show that the [plaintiff] does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial.

Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Companies, Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal citations omitted).

Further, the Eastern District's Local Rule 260(b) prescribes: Any party opposing a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication [must] reproduce the itemized facts in the [moving party's] Statement of Undisputed Facts and admit those facts that are undisputed and deny those that are disputed, including with each denial a citation to the particular portions of any pleading, affidavit, deposition, interrogatory answer, admission, or other document relied upon in support of that denial.

E.D. Cal. R. 260(b). If the non-movant does not "specifically . . . [controvert duly supported] facts identified in the [movant's] statement of undisputed facts," the non-movant "is deemed to have admitted the validity of the facts contained in the [movant's] statement." Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 527 (2006) (finding that a party opposing summary judgment who "fail[s] [to] specifically challenge the facts identified in the [moving party's] statement of undisputed facts . . . is deemed to have admitted the validity of [those] facts"). "Because a district court has no independent duty 'to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact,' and may 'rely on the nonmoving party to identify with reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary judgment,' . . . the district court . . . [is] under no obligation to undertake a cumbersome review of the record on the [nonmoving party's] behalf." Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Arizona, 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996)). The court also considers a party's evidence cited in support of a party's position on an undisputed fact where an asserted undisputed fact is controverted with specific evidence.

II. Factual Record and Procedural History

"Robert St. Jovite entered the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [("CDCR")] on June 29, 2000" and "was transferred to [CSP-Solano] in January 2002." (Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Defs.' SUF") ¶¶ 1-2.) While housed at CSP-Solano, St. Jovite was treated by John M. Dusay, a psychiatrist at CSP-Solano, for depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and early stages of agoraphobia. Id. ¶¶ 4-19. Defendants state it is undisputed that "St. Jovite never expressed to [Dr.] Dusay any suicidal thoughts, intentions, or feelings, and [Dr.] Dusay saw no evidence of suicidal ideations [sic] when he saw St. Jovite or reviewed his medical records." Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiffs counter it is disputed whether St. Jovite expressed suicidal ideation because "St. Jovite stated that his life was becoming unmanageable as a result of his symptoms of anxiety and depression" and "[t]here is a question of fact whether or not this level of hopelessness, when combined with the other risk factors present for St. Jovite, i.e. depression, anxiety, a life sentence, rises to the level of expressed suicidal ideation." (Pls.' Response to Defs.' SUF ¶ 20.) Plaintiffs cite to an inmate appeal form as support for this argument, which St. Jovite filled out after St. Jovite last met with Dr. Dusay for treatment. St. Jovite states in the appeal form his "daily life is almost unmanageable." (Decl. of Geri Lynn Green in Supp. of Response to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 16.) Plaintiffs also cite the deposition testimony of Defendant Alfredo Noriega, a doctor at CSP-Solano, as support for this argument. However, the cited portion of Dr. Noriega's testimony does not concern Dr. Dusay's treatment of St. Jovite. Rather, Dr. Noriega's referenced deposition testimony concerns the significance to him of the "three strikes" entry in a document he was shown during his deposition. Dr. Noriega's pertinent testimony concerning this entry is as follows: "In our training, they teach us to look at signs of people who are about to commit suicide, and [being imprisoned for having three strikes] is one of those signs of symptoms that may precipitate inmates committing suicide." (Dep. of Alfredo Noriega 36:16-21.) Therefore, it is uncontroverted that "St. Jovite never expressed to [Dr.] Dusay any suicidal thoughts, intentions, or feelings, and [Dr.] Dusay saw no evidence of suicidal ideations [sic] when he saw St. Jovite or reviewed his medical records." (Defs.' SUF ¶ 20.) Plaintiffs dismissed Dr. Dusay as a defendant in this case during oral argument on these motions.

"On May 10, 2006, St. Jovite was housed in Building 8, cell 236 at [CSP-Solano], and John Harden [("Harden")] was his cell mate." Id. ¶ 49. "Building 8 was a climate-controlled building where general population inmates on psychotropic medications were housed." Id. ¶ 50. Defendants Rebecca Cahoon ("Cahoon") and Chris Holliday ("Holliday") "were the third-watch floor officers for Building 8 on May 10, 2006." Id. ¶ 53. Defendant Jaime Chua ("Chua") "was the third-watch control booth officer." Id. "Upon arrival for their work shift [at 2:00 p.m.], Cahoon and Holliday . . . were required to attend an emergency meeting called by [Defendant] Captain [James] Nuehring [("Nuehring")]." (Id. ¶ 54; (Pls.' Separate Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Pls.' SUF") ¶ 6.) "Chua did not attend the meeting because, as a control booth officer, he cannot leave his post . . . ." (Defs.' SUF ¶ 57.) The meeting required all floor and yard officers and supervisory staff to leave their posts, including Defendants Sergeant Cheryl Orrick ("Orrick"), Sergeant Gale Martinez ("Martinez"), and Lieutenant Gordon Wong ("Wong"). (Pls.' SUF

¶¶ 9, 10, 12.) "The meeting concerned the stabbing of an officer at another prison, and Nuehring went over safety concerns and precautions when entering a cell." (Defs.' SUF ¶ 54.)

The parties dispute how long the meeting called by Nuehring lasted. Defendants state "[t]he meeting lasted over an hour." Id. ¶ 59. Plaintiffs respond that "training records indicate the meeting was only 30 minutes." (Pls.' Response to Defs.' SUF ¶ 59.) However the training record Plaintiffs cite does not support their position that the meeting lasted only 30 minutes; instead, that training record states the meeting lasted one hour. (Decl. of Geri Lynn Green in Supp. of Response to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 10, at 8.)

"Cahoon and Holliday returned to Building 8 at approximately 3:30 p.m." (Defs.' SUF ¶ 59.) Upon returning, Cahoon heard someone yell "man down." Id. ¶ 60. "[Cahoon] could not immediately tell where the voice was coming from and asked the inmate to identify the cell number." Id. Cahoon and Holliday then proceeded to St. Jovite's cell. (Pls.' Response to Defs.' SUF ¶ 60.) Upon arrival, Cahoon "saw inmate Harden slapping St. Jovite on the head and shoulder area, and she saw St. Jovite's legs and his body resting against the corner of the cell." (Defs.' SUF ¶ 61.) "She also noticed that St. Jovite's head was limp on his shoulder and his hands were resting on his lap. Cahoon believed that Harden was hitting St. Jovite and that they were or had been fighting." Id. ¶ 62. "Cahoon ordered Harden to back away and asked what happened." Id. "Harden stated that he awoke to find St. Jovite hanging from the grill over the sink, but Cahoon did not see [a] noose." Id. ¶ 63. Cahoon "instructed Holliday to call a ...


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